Nestled in an obscure Florida Attorney General candidates’ debate Friday was a fundamental disagreement over the nature of rights. The specific issue at hand was whether health care is a right.
Notably, one Democratic candidate, Dan Gelber, asserted the following on the matter:
Health care should be a right, not a privilege.
Note the verb “should be.” Gelber didn’t claim it “was” a right. Such phrasing seems to deny that rights are fundamental to all individuals (e.g.; “endowed by their Creator“) and not determined by the whims of popular opinion or government decree. He is suggesting, at least in his wording, that rights become rights after being acknowledged by government.
Government creation of rights is anathema to the framers’ understanding of rights. Rights, to them, were innate to being human. They were only to be protected by government, not dependent on government for their existence.
‘Rights’ like the ‘right’ to health care are not rights; they are more accurately defined as “goods” or “services” — things to be allocated based on the ability to pay. Health care may be an important and critical good/service, but to define it as a ‘right’ is a confusion of terms that needs to be avoided if political debates are to be meaningful.
To argue that taxpayers should pay for the health care of others is a legitimate point of debate, but don’t confuse things by claiming it should be a government-granted ‘right.’ Such ‘rights’ aren’t rights.
* The preceding was originally posted on the Young Americans for Liberty blog.